On Monday, June 13, 2016 Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted against funding for 10 units of affordable housing in Mamaroneck. The ten units represented a significant step toward reaching the 750 units which the county is required to build under the 2009 fair and affordable housing settlement.
Republican Legislators were dismayed and confused as to why their colleagues who claim to want affordable housing throughout Westchester would block this important project with just six months left for the county to get 750 units approved with financing in place.
During the meeting the Democrat legislator who represents Mamaroneck took the lead in offering a specious argument as to why she blocked the affordable housing in her district. She claimed that it was a gamble to finance the units because the federal monitor in the settlement had not pre-approved them as counting toward the 750 unit requirement. Republicans found this argument to lack credibility since none of the units that have been approved by the Board of Legislators has had a pre-approval from the Monitor and yet the Democrats voted for them. The Monitor has only challenged the permissibility of one affordable housing project that was approved by the BOL and that challenge was struck down by the judge overseeing the settlement. In Committee meetings to review the proposed funding, representatives from the County Attorney’s Office stated that they were confident that the Mamaroneck units would count and were well-prepared to defend the project’s validity in court if necessary. Further proving the insincerity of the Democrats claims, on the very next vote at the BOL meeting, just 2 minutes and 20 seconds after the five Democrats voted to block the affordable housing in Mamaroneck, they voted in favor of affordable housing in Pound Ridge, a project which also did not have a pre-approval from the Monitor.
During the meeting, Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill said, “If members have some ‘inside’ information why not share it with us now? No one from HUD or the Monitor has publicly stated any doubts. Besides, the only time the Monitor raised an objection that certain units should not be counted was with the Conifer project in New Castle, and in the end, the federal court overruled him and said they do count.”
Minority Whip, Legislator Gordon Burrows (R) Yonkers, said, “If on December 31st the County stands at 740 units, ten units short,and incurs the heavy fines, I will hold each of you that voted to defeat this measure responsible and let every taxpayer know who was responsible for putting the county in non-compliance.”
About John G. Testa
Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader.
John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching.
John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester.
John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters.
John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years.
John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.”
John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill.
John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.